Looking back at James Turner’s Pokémon designs

On June 9, Game Freak’s first Western Pokémon designer, James Turner, announced his departure from the game studio in order to start one of his own. Many were surprised and saddened by the news, especially after his role as the Art Director for Pokémon Sword and Shield. Today we’re looking back at the designs he contributed to the series, broken down by generation.

Generation V

Turner made a big impact with his designs in Pokémon Black and White. While some fans gave a cool reception to Vanillite and its evolutions, Golett and Golurk were very different from any Ground- or Ghost-type Pokémon that had been added to the series before. In addition, Vullaby and Mandibuzz’s incorporation of bones (a human skull?!) made them stand out from other bird-like Pokémon.

Generation VI

While Turner’s contributions to the new Pokémon of Pokémon X and Y were not as numerous as the previous generation, both Phantump and Trevenant were unique species that piqued the interest of many fans. Phantump and its eyes really seem to show off the artistic style of its creator.

Generation VII

In Pokémon Sun and Moon, as well as their successors Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Turner contributed Ultra Beast designs. These Pokémon were meant to look like nothing we had ever seen before, although Poipole looks a little more “normal” than the other three, but may just be my favorite (along with its evolution, Naganadel).

Generation VIII

In addition to serving as the games’ Art Director, Turner contributed a sizable number of Pokémon and Gigantamax designs to Sword and Shield. Centiskorch and its Gigantamax form were another interesting mix of Fire- and Bug-typing, while Gigantamax Gengar had a playful silliness to its design that really seemed to fit the spirit of the Pokémon. The cleverly named Sinistea and Polteageist were also hailed as quality additions to the series. Finally, the first regional Pokémon designs he contributed, Galarian Zigzagoon and Linoone, as well as their regional evolution, Obstagoon, were well-received. Unless, that is, you were trying to cross the Wild Area, but were constantly being hounded by one of the three. Those Zigzagoon can be quick!

Other works

His contributions to Pokémon didn’t stop at simply adding new designs, he also worked on characters for Pokémon Battle Revolution, Pokémon Trozei and more. He even designed Shadow Lugia for Pokémon XD: Gale Of Darkness! His absence will certainly be felt in the series, but we wish him the best going forward.

You can watch the first trailer for his new game, The Plucky Squire, above and follow his game design studio All Possible Futures on Twitter!

Share your thoughts about his designs in the comments below, but please keep things respectful! You can also join the ongoing discussion over on our Discord server.